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Business

UBS close to settling in Italy money-laundering probe

MILAN: Swiss bank UBS has reached a provisional deal with Italian prosecutors to pay 3 million euros ($3.3 million)

29 Jul 2019

MILAN: Swiss bank UBS has reached a provisional deal with Italian prosecutors to pay 3 million euros ($3.3 million) to settle a money-laundering investigation, two sources said, in a move to end one of its biggest legal headaches in Europe.

The bank has been grappling with two separate investigations in Italy and a court case in France over allegations it enabled cross-border tax cheats to hide assets in Switzerland.

The proposed money-laundering settlement, known as an "agreed penalty", has yet to be confirmed by a judge but it has already been backed by Milan prosecutors and has a strong chance of being approved, said the sources familiar with the matter.

Last month, UBS settled its other Italian case, a related financial investigation, with tax authorities for 101 million euros.

No charges have been laid against UBS in the money-laundering investigation which began in late 2017.

UBS declined to comment.

The settlement would go before a judge in the autumn, the sources said. UBS had already deposited in a Milan court's bank account 10 million euros that the judge is expected to confiscate as profit of alleged money-laundering, they added.

The settlement would apply only to potential charges against the bank's parent group, UBS AG, and two subsidiaries, UBS Switzerland and UBS Monaco, the sources said, adding that each company would pay an agreed settlement of 1 million euros.

Prosecutors allege that unidentified UBS managers were responsible for money-laundering because they invested client funds that were the fruit of tax evasion.

Last week, the Swiss Supreme Court ruled that data about 40,000 UBS clients must be handed to French tax authorities in a landmark case that could set a precedent for foreign governments seeking information from Swiss banks.

In France, UBS is appealing a 4.5 billion euros penalty for alleged tax evasion. UBS has denied wrongdoing.

Copyright Reuters, 2019